Qatar World Cup: Plight of migrant workers casts shadow over World Cup

Nairobi, Kenya

Bonifacio Barasa worked in Qatar’s factory for three years, but the life-long fan now says he was so scarred by the experience that he was torn about his world peers watching the Cup.

Barasa, 38, says he has seen a co-worker die after collapsing from excessive heat, which can reach up to 120 degrees. It is suspected that the man could have been dehydrated due to the shortage of water offered to the workers.

Roncus could not independently verify his statement.

He added: “I saw the governor calling another Kenyan a coward. Then when Kenya asked him, “Why do you call me the Black Monkey?” The officer hit him,” Barasa, who was working at the Lusail stadium, told CNN.

His reasoning echoes that of other foreign workers, mainly from Asia and South Africa, who have played an important role in the country’s preparation for the World Cup.

Workers are seen on their way to the construction site of Al Bayt Stadium and accommodation facilities on January 9, 2017 in Doha, Qatar.

Authorities have traced hundreds of deaths in the construction and industries in the 13 years since FIFA recognized the nation as a host of the tournament.

Two newcomers to the tournament died in unknown circumstances.

On December 10, 24-year-old Kenyan security guard John Njue Kibue fell from the eighth-floor stadium in Lusail and died in hospital, his family told CNN.

Another died in the practice of crowding Saudi Arabia during the group stages of the tournament.

Organizers say they will investigate the death of Kibue, who has innovated the treatment of Qatari workers, to bring the World Cup to an end.

While the investigation is under way, complaints about workers in Qatar continue, according to a campaign for migrant causes based in Kenya, which says it has received thousands of messages from workers based in the Sinhalese region.

Galfrid Owino, 40, says he worked as a security officer in the country from 2018 until this past June, when Qatari authorities transferred him.

migrant rights when it was there and continues today.

He receives many complaints from salary withholding to physical assault, Owino told Rhode.

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Owino says he first experienced the abuse of some migrant workers when he worked in Qatar.

In the first week of 2018, he says he was forced to sign an employment contract he hadn’t read. He initially refused but eventually signed on when he thought about the $1,500 recruitment fee he had paid to an agent in Kenya to secure a job that promised $400 a month.

When he arrived, he says he only paid $200 a month and lived in an apartment with seven others.

Foreign workers working on the construction of the football stadium al-Wakrah, one of the stadiums of the World Cup Qatar 2022, retire to their accommodation.

Owino says that the safety inspector has repeatedly spoken of construction workers at the Lusail stadium working in extreme temperatures. But he was neglected, he said, and the officials hastened to complete the construction.

He said the authorities detained him three times without reason and sent him to be deported to the camp because he complained about the insults of his comrades.

He says he fought deportation twice and was released. But when the third time the authority detained him, he gave up the struggle and was expelled from the country.

The Qatari government declined to comment on the conditions of migrants in the country, and Owino’s claims, but a Qatari government official previously told CNN that any claims of workers being “imprisoned or deported without explanation” are false.

Now back in Nairobi, Owino’s fight for fair treatment of migrants in Qatar has earned him the nickname “Mr. They work” and Owino says they are overseas assistants and advocates for the compensation of bodies like FIFA on their behalf.

Owino also works with Equidem, a humanitarian and labor rights organization, to document the experiences of workers who have returned to Kenya. He lives in the neighborhood of Gachie, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Once known for its crime and gang violence, the low-income region has since become the prime target for recruiters promising lucrative opportunities in the Middle East.

The promises are encouraging considering Kenya’s high unemployment rate, which is 5.7%, the highest in East Africa.

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Indeed investigates the allegation of slander of current and former migrant workers across the Gulf, but the report focused last month in Qatar, Indeed widespread violations among taxpayers, unpaid wages, discrimination based on nationality, and systemic abuse in interviews with 60 migrant workers. used at the World Stadiums.

In a written response report, Orbis Mundi said that the authorities “encounter negligence” and the measures put in place to protect the workers and the progress of the country with the reforms, noting that “their care to guarantee the safety; the safety and dignity of the workers has been “stable” since the construction began.

The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy went on to state that while “there is always room for improvement…. the report presents a clearly uneven picture of significant progress towards the inevitable challenges that remain”, adding: “We have always been transparent about our challenges and defend our progress along the way and open dialogue with all stakeholders”.

Qatar World Cup leader Hassan Al-Thawadi said in a British TV interview last month that between 400 and 500 migrant workers had died in their efforts to prepare the Gulf nation for the World Cup, which is far more than the authorities had previously acknowledged. . But he said that only a few deaths were related to the construction of the stadiums.

Qatar has taken steps to improve in response to criticism and signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2017.

For example, he overturned the state’s rolling system, known as kafala, and gave workers the freedom to change jobs before the end of their contract without the consent of their employer.

It was also the first in the country to introduce a non-discriminatory minimum wage and a policy requiring employers to pay overtime. And it received a new health and safety and inspection policy.

Qatar has been praised for the steps it has taken to better protect migrant workers. However, last month the ILO acknowledged that more needs to be done as reports of vulnerable workers facing retaliation by employers and wage delays persisted.

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When they got the World Cup, some Black newcomers took on a very visible role in a country where they are often invisible – part of the workforce but not society.

Kenyan Abubaker Abbas – aka “Metro Man” has become a social media sensation for demonstrating his way to the roof using a foam finger and a megaphone.

Tournament organizers have raised the profile of the 23-year-old Kenyan in an apparent bid to draw criticism over Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers.

He also appeared on the pitch as a surprise guest before the highly anticipated US v England, leading the packed stadium into “Metro” chants.

Elsewhere in Doha, another Kenyan, Dennis Kamau, also enjoyed internet fame as an enthusiastic traffic controller, directing a chorus of cars and pedestrians in games.

The show, however, contrasts the sad reality of those who are working behind the scenes, says Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan immigrant rights defender and former security guard in Qatar, who has tried to expose the work and living conditions tolerated by migrants.

Abbas described the conditions in the metro station as “horrendous” for migrant workers.

Bidali says Qatari authorities placed him in solitary confinement in 2021 after he improved conditions for social media migrant workers.

The Qatari government accused him of accepting money from “foreign agents” for his work with international NGOs and accused him of spreading disinformation online.

After organizations such as Amnesty International campaigned for his release, he was finally released. The traumatic trial pushed him to leave for Qatar, he said.

Bidali says he is worried about the fate of workers in Qatar once the World Cup takes over and the attention goes away. He fears that workers’ rights will be limited without any accountability.

“When we speak, people are still not getting paid, people are still living in cramped conditions, people are still facing physical, verbal, sexual attacks, discrimination, working hours, and terrible working conditions,” Bidali said.


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